Garden Design – How You Can Learn From Books And From Visiting Gardens

Garden Design – How You Can Learn From Books And From Visiting Gardens

Article by Jonathan Yaakobi

All of us involved in gardening, whether home gardeners or landscape professionals, ought to have the will and desire to learn continuously about our amazing occupation. A stroll in the local park, apart from being a pleasant experience in itself, is an opportunity for gaining just one more insight, or learning something new. This is even more so when one visits some great and famous garden, or even while thumbing through a garden design book. The question is, do you know how to learn from these experiences?

It is clear to me as a garden designer and contractor that many homeowners who are anxious for design inspiration, approach the matter from the wrong starting point. Most commonly, the person relates what they see directly to their own garden. After thinking “Oh that won’t grow in my backyard”, or believing that a particular configuration is beyond their budget, they switch off and move on in the hope of finding something more relevant to their situation. The irony is that seeing things exclusively from your own subjective point of view, cuts you off from many sources of inspiration, some of which might be right under your nose!

Let us try to see things for a moment as a designer would. A professional involved in any branch of design, whether it is gardens, home interiors, or architecture, distinguishes between two vital but distinct categories. On the one hand, are the subjective desires and needs of the customer. Designing a garden that fails to relate to these, is like cooking a magnificent steak for a vegetarian!

On the other hand though, the designer sees things objectively, by relating everything to the principles of design. Here are some issues that a garden designer would raise.

*Is the size of the flowerbed in correct proportion to the size of the lawn?

*Is the height of the proposed trees in scale with the house?

*Is the leaf shape of a particular bush, in harmony with the leaf texture of the mass of shrubs?

*Would that statue serve as a striking focal point? Would plants with showy flowers strengthen the statue’s role as a focal point or compete with it?

*Have I created a clear and bold composition?

These are the sort of questions you can ask yourself when looking for ideas. By mentally distancing yourself from your own garden, you can afford to relax and start to see the reasons why the water feature has an abstract form, or why ornamental grasses have been planted around it. You realize that all the parts that make up the garden seem to belong; that nothing is random, and that everything has a role and purpose. The best way to get real inspiration from a great gardening book or from a fine park, is to understand the principles behind the fabulous pictures that you see before you.

About the Author

My name is Jonathan Ya’akobi.I’ve been gardening in a professional capacity since 1984.I am the former head gardener of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, but now concentrate on building gardens for private home owners.I also teach horticulture to students on training courses.I’d love to help you get the very best from your garden,so you’re welcome to visit me on http://www.dryclimategardening.comor contact me at

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